How much is easy DIY maintenance worth to you?

Messages
862
Location
Chicago
One of my pet peeves about cars is how many of them are designed to make normal maintenance work downright complicated, time-consuming, or impossible for the average car buff who likes to work on cars occasionally, and save a little dough in the process. Why don't manufacturers put a little thought into the design process to facilitate these tasks? I'm talking about things like this: 1. Changing the oil and oil filter 2. Replacing the battery 3. Replacing other commonly used filters, i.e., gas, air, cabin, etc. 4. Replacing clutches in cars with stick 5. Brake jobs 6. Shock replacements I'm sure you can think of others for the list. But when buying a car, I would give serious priority to cars that make doing these tasks easy instead of painful. We have all seen the oil filter that is buried under the engine someplace and needs some kind of goofy special tool to remove it. And then there are those that you can spin off just by reaching into the engine compartment. What is the logic in burying a battery under a bunch of hoses and equipment that need hours to remove and replace just to change out the battery? It's almost like a design to ensure expensive maintenance costs. It shouldn't be necessary to pull an engine to change a clutch or an oil filter. Even if you aren't interested in doing your own maintenance, the manufacturer is also making it cheaper for the regular customers who pay to have it done.
 
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Messages
1,385
Location
Houston, TX
Clutch job is my only hold-back...having done it on 5 or 6 different cars, I always vow that it's the last time...finally paid for a shop to do it and the price was outrageous, but then again I did not spend 8+ hours doing it. Everything else is a minor headache :)
 

Cogito

Thread starter
Messages
862
Location
Chicago
I should've added timing belt replacement to my list. But a lot of new cars seem to be going with chains now, so maybe that's not as important as it was a few years ago.
 
Messages
8,308
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
 Originally Posted By: UberxG
i wish new cars engine bays look like this VERY SIMPLE :D
No power steering? Or am I just blind? Mine's next to the washer fluid tank, and I figured since everything else is in the same place as my Integra it should be there... weird! Looks really clean \:\!
 
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25,043
Location
ON, Canada eh?
I look for it when I buy a car... Most cars today are very hard to work on. I think they try to discourage DIY-ers and want the customer to bring it to the dealer. No wonder no one wants to be a mechanic nowadays!
 
Messages
23,591
I case of my car: 1. Changing the oil and oil filter no problem 2. Replacing the battery no problem 3. Replacing other commonly used filters, i.e., gas, air, cabin, etc. no problem besides the fuel filter (huge and not meant to be replaced) 4. Replacing clutches in cars with stick No thanks! I still need my spine. 5. Brake jobs no problem 6. Shock replacements no problem
 
Messages
723
Location
wichita kansas
I don't mind doing most of the minor ones, but anymore the fuel pump is in the gas tank. Since I have this hangup with working around gas it will be a poor day when I decide to change one myself even though I have decent garage and the tools I need now. A possible trip to the hospital just seems to take away any cost savings for me. On the Mazda 3 I understand that changing the cabin filter is kind of a nightmare. On the Dodge caravan it is really really easy.
 
Messages
998
Location
Lexington, SC
I think about it a lot, esp. when I work on my cars, I curse the designers and wish they could be condemed to working in a shop where they have to fix all the cars they designed forever. I think the reason the newer FWD cars are designed as they are is because of ease of manufacturing. If you ever see the videos where the cars are put together on the assembly line, you see the body assembly and the engine assembly mated on the line. The engine plus trans and and sometimes the front suspension are formed in a neat box shape. The car body is dropped over it and the entire unit is bolted in. That's great for efficient manufactoring but creates a lot of problems for the DIYer in his driveway. If you think about it, even if you take that car to the dealer, you still pay for the design because you are paying the mechanic by the hour for his work. You get the RX 330 with the oil filter you can't get to and can barely see.
 
Messages
9,382
Location
Canuck living in California
 Quote:
1. Changing the oil and oil filter 2. Replacing the battery 3. Replacing other commonly used filters, i.e., gas, air, cabin, etc. 4. Replacing clutches in cars with stick 5. Brake jobs 6. Shock replacements
I think my Mazda3 is a fairly easy for a DIY'er. When I was car shopping, engine bay layout was part of my criteria, and Honda Civic sure failed this one. Anyways, 1. Very easy, once you enlarge the oil filter inspection hole in the engine undercover. 2. Did not have to replace the battery, but it sits nicely in it's own box. 3. Engine air filter is easy, cabin filter is a pita, fuel filter in the tank, so pita as well. 4. My car is automatic, but ATF changes are a snap, as it has the ATF drain bolt. 5. Brakes are very similar regardless of car make. 6. I think shock replacements are about same difficulty an all FWD cars.
 
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Messages
8,598
Location
Florida
I love it when a car uses shocks instead of struts. 30 minutes a side to replace them. Struts, even with a quick-strut are more time consuming, and most MacPherson strut designs require a wheel alignment afterwords. Honda-style independent front suspensions are even harder. It seems that only certain 1980s SAAB cars enabled simple shock absorber changes for the front. There are almost no RWD cars... Usually they are easier to work on... Usually. V6 powered Z cars and Corvettes are a huge pain. Good thing struts last twice as long as they did in the 1980s.
 
Messages
2,804
Location
NJ
My Xterra is ridiculously simple to work on. Everything is in an easy to reach place, shocks can be changed without even lifting the truck. Everything is in reach, my TC was such a tight fit you couldn't really do anything in that bay.
 

PT1

Messages
5,746
Location
near the mistake
I find that DIY work mentioned above saves me about $3,500 per year when I add up 3 cars, one boat and a motorcycle. I have also found that most cars are easy to do routine maintenance on if you simply do the research use factory service manuals and find out how other DIYers are doing the work. This site is an excellent resource for much of that information. I have also found that I use higher quality parts than any other shops with the exception of dealers that use factory replacement parts. In one instance using Raybestos AT brake components actually increased braking performance on a Lexus RX330 over the factory rotors & pads which was surprising. (even a dealer tech agreed. I still use shops & dealers for the big repairs that require a lift or specialized equipment like alignments etc. But I have now found that I will keep vehicles much longer and since starting my "DIY preventative maintenance program" I have had very few part failures. In fact the only failures I have had were manufacturing defects that would have occurred anyway. Now, I detest taking the car into a shop for repairs. I have had so many bad experiences that I don't trust very many "mechanic" imposters.
 
Messages
2,600
Location
Kansas City
 Originally Posted By: PT1
Now, I detest taking the car into a shop for repairs. I have had so many bad experiences that I don't trust very many "mechanic" imposters.
Problem is they are not "Mechanics" any more, They are "Technicians". If its not printed out and arrows pointing to everything,I doubt some of them could find the PCV valve.
 
Messages
1,007
Location
Dallas, TX
My sister-in-law's Trailblazer requires the front end of the truck be removed to replace a headlight bulb. Rediculous. That should be a 5-minute job on ANY car. The joke's on Chevy...people don't take them back to the dealership to have this done. They have independents or shops like Kwik Kar do it.
 
Messages
5,153
Location
MW
I think the best car for the OP is this: Model T Things change and life moves on. While there are major engineering fails like the necessity to lift the engine to access the spark plugs, the cars are reliable enough nowadays not to require a lot of DIY work.
 
Messages
9,382
Location
Canuck living in California
I think that DIY'ers today don't have it all that bad as the OP suggests. Sure, some maintance items are more complicated than they used to be (flushing ABS modules, ATF changes that require a tool to have the ATF temperature read for fluid level verification etc.), but on the other hand you have a wealth of info. accessible to you at your fingertips (such as this forum). You can get detail How-To's, that will walk you step by step, available for pretty much everything. There are dedicated forums for all car models, and sometimes simply googling a problem will give you what you're looking for. DIY'ers 10-15 years ago would simply kill for such availability of information. With a liitle bit of research a lot of maintenance and repairs can still be done by an average person, the trick is to spend some time doing your research.
 
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